Safety Publications/Articles

Professionally Speaking

Currency Is Key

I met Joe (not his real name) at a business function. I liked him. You'd probably like him too. He was friendly, personable, and obviously successful. Once he found out I was into general aviation, he told me about his airplane. Joe owned one of the most lusted-over light piston twins in the industry. At one time or another, most of us have dreamed of owning one. He had it fixed up just the way he wanted it; paint, equipment, avionics, and upholstery were to his specifications. I envied him.

Then I asked Joe about his recurrency training...

"Actually," he said, "I don't need it. I've got about 1,000 hours of total time, including several hundred hours multiengine, and I fly 150 hours per year, so I really don't need recurrency training."

I am writing this while I ride on a major airline, going home from an airshow. There are two - not one, but two - seasoned pilots in the cockpit, with more than 10,000 thousand hours experience between them. They fly very regularly. They fly a jet in which an engine failure is less critical than in a piston twin. They always fly with at least two pilots. They take checkrides every six months.

Ah, folks, it is an old question, too seldom asked or answered: Can we, flying alone in a sophisticated twin, really fly safely for two years between flight reviews?

Oh, I know we can do it legally, but can we do it safely? I think not. The front cover of this magazine puts it very well - "A good pilot is always learning." True enough, but I would add to that - "and the good pilot frequently gets checked!"

We need to preach recurrency training from the mountaintops, and nobody can preach it better than you, the working CFI. Preach it from day one in your students' training. Instill it in them. It does work.

I have a friend, Clyde, who learned to fly at a good local school. He, like Joe, is successful beyond the wildest dreams of most of us. He has owned 10 or more airplanes, including three light twins. Today, he flies a single. He tells me he just doesn't have the time to get the recurrency training he knows he needs in the twin.

What is the difference between Clyde's attitude and Joe's? Training. Clyde was taught early in his flying career that twin-engine airplanes should be flown only if one has the time, resources, and willingness to get frequent and regular recurrency training. Clyde believes they go together. He has never actually considered flying a twin without recurrency training.

The best time to instill this attitude is during primary training, while the student is still receptive to everything the CFI teaches. Tell your students the truth - a well-flown twin is safer than a well-flown single, but a poorly flown twin can be the most dangerous thing in the air. Get that attitude ingrained in your students before they are exposed to other pilots with the wrong attitude.

This is not only safe, it is good business. My friend Clyde, after all, has paid for many hours of CFI time just for recurrency training. CFIs typically get paid more for that kind of training, and it is often a pleasant break from primary training for the instructor.

Most importantly, Clyde has never had an accident. He has never hurt anyone. The people who ride with him have no gory stories to tell. His record and attitude promote, rather than harm, general aviation.

This is just another example of the old rule - honesty really is the best policy.

By Ralph Hood

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